RicelandMeadows


Neighbors, Numbers and Salvage
June 20, 2018, 9:53 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

wetwindrows

June 20, 2018

Monday morning I was up early. I started raking three small fields of hay that we used for “baleage” This hay was baled while still green or “wet”, then wrapped in plastic. The bales resemble large marshmallows. I started raking at 5:45 am, right after chores were done. I wanted the morning dew to raise the water content on the wilted hay. The good bacteria turn the bales into yummy sweet smelling silage! My Amish neighbors did the baling and wrapping.

My closest Amish neighbors, use tractors and very modern equipment instead of draft horses like me. This sect is much different from my Old Order Amish friends to whom I am most accustomed. In any case, the neighbors came by and made my balage. It cost me less than one payment on the equipment I would have to buy to do this job myself. It makes economic sense to hire this job done. We made 42 bales, enough for my supplemental winter feeding, in two hours!

I have always tried to look at my farm from a profit and loss perspective. Often times it is better to hire jobs done based upon time, equipment needs or the scope of a job. I tend to be hard-headed at times. I get myself into a project where hiring a man to do it, would have cost less, been done faster and probably had a better end result as well. Pride can be a wicked thing. I have learned a lot from experience…usually I learn the most from a bad experience!

salvagewood

Here is another example of hiring a neighbor and making use of salvaged goods. The lumber in the above photo was sawn for me by a friend. The logs were from a pine tree that blew down, A bitternut hickory growing in the wrong place and a dying sycamore next to the sugarhouse. Some of the hickory will replace the floor on my horse drawn work sled. The rest of the hickory and the pine, will become the north wall on my back barn overhang. The sycamore I had cut into live edge pieces to make benches for visitors to the sugarhouse.

So, it has been a great week so far. Thanks mostly to neighbors, numbers and salvage!



Rolling in the Hay
June 15, 2018, 7:29 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

tendercrop2018

June 15, 2018

The haying season has finally begun. The rain delayed me some, but yesterday I got the first hay of the season mowed. The tender grass and trefoil will make some very nice hay for the horses. I mowed this crop with the tractor. The horses will be used to fluff the drying hay, as well as, to rake it into windrows.

We have quite a bit to do. Just like any journey, it begins with the first step. It looks like a good stretch for hay making. Early next week a guy will bale and wrap a good amount of our cow hay. That baleage will be used in the coldest part of winter to keep the cows in top condition. The hay that is shown in the picture will be baled dry and stored for winter feeding of the horses.

hay2018

This is some of the nicest hay that I have ever cut. The sheep wintered in this field. They grazed the grass I left here for them all winter. They set the grass back a little making it slower to mature allowing for later cutting. They also fertilized it all winter and early spring. I will call this a grazing success. I should also mention that 12 sheep grazing all winter only ate 4 bales (800 pounds) of hay that I made. The rest of their diet came from the stockpiled grass in this field. The hay was available to them 24/7, but they chose to paw through the snow to eat the grass.

So the 2018 hay season has begun. We will be busy for awhile as long as the sun shines. All is well here at Riceland….we are just taking care of the Meadows!



Winter Hay Feeder

hayfeed

December 5, 2017

We have been trialing the newly built hay feeder. The cows like it well. We had to turn one gate around on the feedlot for animal movement, but the feeder is working out very well. The cattle stick their heads through to eat. They eat at different times, but even when most of the herd east together, even the most timid animal can get a spot at the table.

They do eat some from the ends where the green gates are located, but mostly just clean up what ever has spilled out. There has been very little waste feeding the cattle this way. I can click the “success” button on this project! The feeder is easy to fill using the skid steer. The animals use it very well. The percentage of wasted hay is minimal. Lastly, I only have to move hay once a week or less, so it is a great time saver too!

This feeder is permanent, but building one on skids would be a great option for many small farmers. You provide some protection for the hay, as well as, the animals. This could even provide shade from the hot summer sun, while feeding hay when pastures are declining. I recommend trying one on your small holdings in some form or another. The benefits far out weigh the costs.



Horses and Hay
July 20, 2016, 11:09 pm
Filed under: July 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

me&kh

July 20, 2016

As our harvest here on the farm continues, the horses and I raked some second cutting clover this morning. We waited until the morning dew had been burnt off by the sun. It was still pretty early and even a bit cool at about 60 when the job started. The cool morning made for a great time. We finished before the biting flies woke up and found us.

My grandson from Montana snapped this photo as we walked out to get the hay rake. He rode along while we worked. I am sure it will be a memory that he will take back home with him. The hot sun and dry ground pulled the moisture out of the curing hay pretty fast. We were able to bale it all before supper and mow it away after we ate.

2ndclover

This high protein feed will be fed to calves this coming late winter. It will be a great asset to have when the sucking calves start to pull the weight off of their mothers. I can make a feeder where only the small calves can eat. I can supplement their feed and keep a watchful eye on them too.

The speltz straw is drying and will be baled soon too. The horses will rake and “ted” the straw as we fluff it to dry. It will be next week’s work. Who knows? Perhaps even Miss Abby will get a chance to pull the hay rake as her training continues. It will just depend upon the weather and time…..both of which I have very little control over…but no matter, as long as I have hay and horses… I’ll be fine 🙂



2015 Speltz Crop Has Been Planted
September 24, 2015, 10:46 pm
Filed under: September 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
One of Two fields

One of Two fields

September 24, 2015

After three marathon days of farm work, my speltz crop is in the ground. I worked until after dark the last three days, but it was worth it. These fields represent next year’s horse grain. It will last me for an entire year providing we get a decent crop. I have done my job, so now I patiently wait 😮

I plowed these fields last week. This week I spent lots of time harrowing them smooth. A hay crop is planted with the speltz. The speltz will nurse the growing hay. Once the grain has been harvested and the straw all baled, the hay will flourish. Harvesting hay a year later from these fields will be very nice on the smooth ground. Keep in mind, two winters will cover the hayfields with snow, helping to flatten everything out too.

I can now wash, lubricate and store my grain drill and the tillage tools. Only my horse plow will be kept near the front of the shed. The horses and I will be doing some fall plowing in a few weeks, but for now I will busy myself with putting things away for …winter (gulp)

It is looking like a maternity ward around here too. Sows and cows are heavy with young. Very soon farm babies will be born. It is always an exciting time. The best part of farming for me is seeing the new babies. I simply never get tired of looking at them. They are so dang cute. They don’t become a pain in the backside for a few months, so watching them and laughing while they are babies makes it all worth it!



Up Up and Away!
July 17, 2015, 9:14 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Jake loads the elevator

Jake loads the elevator

July 17, 2015

Yay!!!  Finally after missing half a summer, we got some dry hay made. We have more down and almost ready. Rain threatens, but no worries here, if it gets wet I will roll it up in plastic for silage! It is awesome to have a back up plan. Yesterday was not with out its problems, but we overcame each and every one. I do have a shear pin to replace on the baler, but that is an easy job.

The combine wouldn’t start as we prepared for the speltz harvest. We found many little things, but apparently the mice building a big straw nest in the muffler, was my biggest problem! It’s all good now.

Today I will wrestle with the last of our first cutting hay. I will adapt with the weather and try looking forward instead of skyward…. Tomorrow I will know just how today went, no point in worrying about it today!



Hay man! Where’s the sun?
July 2, 2015, 9:37 am
Filed under: July 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Ripe and ready

Ripe and ready

July, 2 2015

The rains keep falling, the grass keeps growing. The clovers and hay grasses continue to ripen. It will be all fine, but I’d sure like to be making dry hay soon. We are making “wet” bales so all is not lost. This will make some very nice winter time feed. The succulent plants, harvested at their peak, provides high protein feed that smells wonderful. Opening a bale when the snow is deep, as the winter wind whips your face, is almost fun. The sweet smelling hay crop reminds me the days of summer. The worries of making a hay crop…gone! So, the lesson is…be patient. It will all work out.

The pastures are growing great. All this rain keeps the grass in top shape. We are mowing the lawn almost every three days. There is no sign of the dry July grass and lawn burnout. I’m sure it will come, but not this week 😮 Soon, the sun will shine and lots of work will need done all at once. Farmers like myself will be scrambling waiting for a rainy day and the rest that comes with it. Until then, I keep clicking things off my list, some projects not scheduled until fall, but they are complete none the less.

I see a few jobs that will slide of my list until the late cool days of fall. Grass and weeds are taking over the edges of the farm. I generally keep these areas mowed, but to date, they have been wet and saturated. I will get them sooner or later, but this year it will be later! The speltz are ripening quickly. Soon the “amber waves of grain”, will be calling me to harvest. This is a mid-summer job and much to my surprise … It is mid-summer!